The completion of a fabrication job means that the fabricated product is ready to be welded, machined etc. as part of the next stage in its manufacturing journey. However, this unfinished material may become dirty and oxidized, covered in mill scale, dirt, and other debris from its manufacturing process. Any type of steel with an uneven surface will need to undergo some form of treatment to smooth and clean its surface so that it can achieve proper adhesion. Here is where shot blasting plays a major role in preparing steel to be aesthetically appealing and resilient for operations. This blog will provide an overview of the shot blasting process, including its benefits and applications in industry.
What is Shot Blasting?
Whilst there are many custom metal fabrication finishing processes, ranging from simply wiping down the surface with a soapy rag to immersing the steel in a bath of complex and often expensive chemicals, shot blasting is one of the most popular and effective methods to clean and prepare dirty or oxidized steel. It is a mechanical cleaning process in which tiny spheres of material are shot at the steel at high speed to remove oxidization and other dirt or debris from the surface. Shot blasting is similar to sand blasting in that material is propelled using pressure vessels at the metal to remove the dirt from its surface, although shot blasting is a much more efficient way to achieve this.
Nuts and Bolts of Shot Blasting
Shot blasting works by propelling spheres of material known as shot media against the steel, which removes debris, oxidization and other contaminants from the surface, leaving behind a completely smooth medium ready for sheet metal fabrication techniques, such as welding and machining. This can be superior to other methods of cleaning steel as shot blasting is more abrasive than alternatives such as sand blasting, getting the job done more efficiently and more effectively. In order to use shot blasting as an effective method for cleaning and smoothing unfinished steel, it’s essential to be aware of the propulsion method as well as the form of shot media. The most effective method of shot blasting involves the use of a centrifugal wheel. This wheel is filled with the shot media and spun to create the necessary velocity. The media is then released from the wheel into the gun, allowing the media flow to be directed to the surface of the steel or other material. Frequently, shot blasting apparatus will also include a recovery system. This often consists of a vacuum used to collect the shot blasting media, allowing the recovered material to be used again.
Shot blasting is effective for all types of steel and metal that steel fabrication firms work with including Engineering Steel, Stainless Steel, Cast Iron, Black Steel and Carbon Steel. It is a safe and effective way to clean and prepare steel surfaces for the adhesion needed in welding and machining. However, it is not advisable to attempt shot blasting unless the individual is an experienced professional in steel fabrication finishing techniques. Also, if shot blasting is not carried out with diligence and thoroughness, the steelwork could be subjected to corrosion and damage down the line. This could lead to a significant reduction in the lifespan of the fabricated product. Hence, shot blasting is a necessary technique for finished fabrication products – and fabrication firms should make it a priority to leverage its manifold benefits in their ultimate quest to gain more market share!